Seares: VM Raymond Garcia will run ‘definitely’ for Cebu City mayor but won’t say in what year. Meantime, Rama-Garcia 2025 tandem remains. On ‘why-only-now’ opposition to BRT station site: Final design wasn’t shown to City Council.

Photos of Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama,  Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia, and Vice Mayor Raymond Garcia (with Jason Monteclar)
Photos of Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia, and Vice Mayor Raymond Garcia (with Jason Monteclar)File photos/Contributed

[] Despite publicized quarrels between Barug leaders, the vice mayor says all’s well and they’re ‘even more united’ than rival BOPK

[] VM Garcia says his aunt Cebu Governor Garcia wasn’t meddling into Cebu City affairs.

WHAT WAS MADE CLEAR in the video interview with broadcaster Jason Monteclar, publicly shown Friday, March 19, 2024: Cebu City Vice Mayor and City Council Presiding Officer Raymond Alvin Garcia --

[1] Said he’d stay as Mayor Michael Rama’s running mate and there would be “status quo” on their previously announced Partido Barug tandem in the 2025 elections.

[2] Confirmed that his disagreement with Mayor Rama regarding the site of BRT (bus rapid transit) station at the Capitol was resolved and their friendship and political relations remain good. VM Garcia and Mayor Mike had talked twice about it shortly after the mayor lamented he was “stabbed in the back” by his vice mayor. In a Sanggunian speech, Garcia had requested for the Office of Building Official (OBO) to suspend work on Phase 1 of Cebu BRT until a redesign would prevent blocking of the view of Capitol all the way from Fuente Osmeña rotunda.

[3] Wanted to foil the “Why only now?” argument against stopping the project by disclosing that the “final design” was never shown to the City Council. The councilors were shown only the route. The feared photo-bombing of the Capitol façade became a real threat when the bus station near the Capitol started rising. Garcia said the Cebu BRT manager told him this week he’d soon present the design, probably with the bus station relocated.

[4] Agreed with broadcaster Monteclar that the public is fed up with the inconvenience caused by the BRT project on commuters and pedestrians, many of whom would rather see the work completed and not interrupted. And this is only phase one, VM Garcia said, there are still Phase 2, Phase 3 and Phase 4.

VM RAYMOND’S POSITION ON BRT. Perhaps distorted by the noise in the public debate over the issue, the vice mayor had sounded like he was all out against the BRT and was supporting his aunt Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia in the Capitol leader’s claim over properties allegedly included in the BRT project.

There was the timing: Guv Gwen’s “cease and desist executive order” and the vice mayor’s speech came one after the other, like coordinated artillery fire.

In the interview (under the “Not So Late Night Show with Jason Monteclar” label), VM Garcia said he was only against the BRT station blocking the Capitol façade, which a national law prohibits, along with the protection of the structure itself. “Not just the structure but also the landscape and setting,” he said.

He is not against the entire project but only the threat of “photo-bombing,” he being the chairman of the City Historical and Cultural Affairs Commission. Shouldn’t the National Commission for Culture and the Arts have taken the lead on this? VM Garcia and the other locals, being on the ground and would know better and more quickly, should seize the initiative first.

Also, the vice mayor said, it was only a City Council request, only the mayor “makamando sa OBO.” We make several requests most of the time to offices and departments, he said.

IN DEFENSE OF THE AUNT. No, VM Garcia told Monteclar, Guv Gwen was not meddling in Cebu City affairs, thus denying again Mayor Rama’s February 28 accusation of intervention and request for Capitol to back off.

It was odd for the vice mayor to belie his mayor’s statement but VM Garcia has stuck to his view. If this were a different LGU, he said, “mag-away na ang mayor ug bise-mayor.”

Like the vice mayor, Guv Gwen was asserting a right under the National Cultural Heritage Act (Republic Act #10066 of 2009). Moreover -- to boost enforcement of the “makadaot-sa-view” protection -- she said she holds title to some of the land being used for the BRT. Interestingly, former mayor-congressman Tomas Osmeña also declared that he, as administrator of the Osmeña clan properties, holds the title to the land claimed by Capitol. Lawyers were preparing litigation papers even as Tomas Osmeña and Gwen Garcia traded contradictory claims in public.

MIKE, COUNCILORS DISAGREE ON SOME ISSUES, Jason Monteclar pointed out. VM Garcia admitted they do, like Councilors Jocelyn Pesquera and Noel Wenceslao cutting down Mayor Rama’s 2024 budget from P100 billion to P25.833 billion. Or like the entire City Council, dominated by the mayor’s party-mates, shooting down his veto of the budget.

The vice mayor conceded that they sometimes disagree or even quarrel but they are “strictly professionals” and do their work “professionally,” which must enable them to remain friends and political allies.

ON RUNNING FOR MAYOR SOME YEAR. Garcia affirmed he’d run for city mayor but wouldn’t say in what year. He can still run for vice mayor in 2025 and 2028, even as Mike Rama has been saying he could run for two more terms and Raymond Alvin could be mayor someday (“I guarantee,” Mike said), apparently, in his game plan, after his own third consecutive term.

The best-laid plan, even if written into a Mike Rama “improvised” song, could be derailed by God, humans and, journalist Max Limpag says, AIs (artificial intelligence). While confirming the survival of the Rama-Garcia tandem in 2025, the vice mayor allowed a crack when he chimed in with Jason Monteclar, “Layo pa bitaw ang October,” referring to the deadline this year for filing COCs or certificates of candidacy in the 2025 election.

WHAT STUMPS JOY ALSO PUZZLES RAYMOND. Councilor Pesquera was earlier reported as being confused over the mayor’s “declaration of independence” when at the same time he also heads Partido Barug. VM Garcia admitted in the interview, “Usahay maglibog ko anang dapita.”

Garcia said there are “independent and brilliant councilors” in the Sanggunian who apparently are “pains in the ass” to the mayor and his inner circle. Mayor Rama shouldn’t be surprised. When he was still vice mayor and presiding officer, later subbing frequently for then-ailing mayor Edgardo Labella, Mike himself led and shaped the City Council into becoming independent and “no longer rubber stamps” of the chief executive. And lately he has been declaring himself “independent.”

He must not be surprised that a number of councilors now aren’t acceding to his wishes when they quarrel over what’s for public good. Despite the “all’s well” flag waved by Garcia, publicized feuds may have convinced the public otherwise.

YET THEY’RE ‘MORE UNITED THAN BOPK.’ Or so the vice mayor said, citing their “regular meetings” with the mayor.

VM Garcia wasn’t asked about the recent outbursts of Mayor Rama: why they didn’t reflect the supposed goodwill and cheer in Partido Barug private fellowships.

Mayor Mike, a fan of famous if worn-out phrases such as “I’ve crossed the Rubicon,” would’ve found handy, with his “back-stabbing” remark, the question “Et tu Raymond?” Instead, Jason Monteclar made a show of searching for a knife in the vice mayor’s person.


No stories found.

Just in

No stories found.

Branded Content

No stories found.
SunStar Publishing Inc.